High school concussion testing program on hold in Santa Rosa

Baseline concussion testing for high school athletes already suited up for fall sports has been delayed because of problems implementing the program at Santa Rosa City Schools.

Under a program approved in February, all student athletes at all five of the district's comprehensive high schools were to receive baseline cognitive tests that could be used in comparison with tests taken following a suspected head injury. The baseline tests were expected to be administered prior to the start of each season.

In addition, five certified athletic trainers were to have been hired to monitor athletes throughout the season.

But that plan hit a snag in recent months when a partnership with Sonoma State University failed to produce viable candidates the district was expecting to fill the trainer positions.

As a result, fall practices for contact sports named in the proposal — including football and soccer — have already begun, and no baseline tests have been administered.

"I want this done as soon as possible," board president and plan proponent Bill Carle said. "We've been talking about this for two years."

The delay occurred when it was determined that Sonoma State University's kinesiology department would not supply needed athletic trainer candidates for the part-time jobs.

Sonoma State's master's program in kinesiology does not currently have an established internship requirement that would have provided interns with a academic mentor, unit accrual and insurance.

"The SSU connection, it's not as strong as I thought it was going to be," said Arlen Agapinan, director of secondary school curriculum and instruction for the district and a lead player in the establishment of the program.

When the partnership was officially established in February, district officials believed SSU's kinesiology program would provide a pool of qualified candidates, some of whom might apply for the part-time, 36-week position that paid $15,000.

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